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EU Justice Commissioner Says Google Privacy Changes Are In Breach of EU Law

 9:41 am on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

EU Justice Commissioner Says Google Privacy Changes Are In Breach of EU Law [bbc.co.uk]
Changes made by Google to its privacy policy are in breach of European law, the EU's justice commissioner has said.

Viviane Reding told the BBC that authorities found that "transparency rules have not been applied".

The regulator said it would send Google questions on the changes by mid-March. On Thursday, Ms Reding told BBC Radio 4's World At One that conclusions from initial investigations had left CNIL "deeply concerned".



 5:13 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you look at the instructions in that article, the author try to show people how to supposedly "turn off" your web-history in Google.

Notice, however, that this is in reality only "Paused" as the screen also shows. The standard options in your account settings only give you the "Pause" option.

But to actually turn off and finally remove your Web-history, you have to go through a whole other process, which includes going into ones product list and deleting the product "Web History". (Some "product", huh?). At least thats the path I followed.

Then after a process that includes a new password validation, some warning screens trying to discourage it because it will affect among other their ability to do good ads, and other, one finally get to "Delete" ones history and disable it. The screens for good scary measure also includes the options to and warnings about deleting your entire account, which would kill off all Google products. For a webmaster including adsense, adwords, analytics, and other stuff. For my own safety, I felt like I had to read through the help-pages too, to make sure I was not shooting myself in the foot.

After finally Deleting and Disabling, your Google account will in the end show Web history as "Disabled", which is distinctly different from "Paused".

Obviously, that does not necessarily mean that they are not still doing it, and did not merely eliminate your access to it. But thats a whole other discussion. :)


 6:10 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

DeeCee, for the average user that is way to difficult.

I believe the mistake G has made is not making it opt in. But then, from their point of view, how many would opt in? Not so many. The second mistake was not making it easier to opt out. It's way too difficult.


 7:38 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I agree with you..

Facebook has a history for messing with people's privacy options and constantly restructuring them so old "opt-outs" magically no longer apply. A way to "re-open" people's data so it is available for marketing. But at least their options are still all in one place and can be gone through in a reasonable way. (I go through and recheck Facebook options at least once a month.)

But Google's options are so spread out and so cryptic, that they are impossible, even though they know 1000 times as much about me as Facebook. Plus one would have to read through the policies and help-pages to understand just part of how it all connects; How many people actually read or understand all those documents. Most people merely use Google Search or their Android phone services without thinking much about it.

I can certainly understand that both Japan and the EU are now going after Google for privacy issues.
The help pages and new privacy pages also explain how they plan to let your information and all your web-history be used across all Google products, INCLUDING how they, if you touch any of their "location based services", may/will

collect and process information about your actual location, like GPS signals sent by a mobile device. We may also use various technologies to determine location, such as sensor data from your device that may, for example, provide information on nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.

(The emphasis on the policy quote is mine.)

So even if you turn off the GPS in your phone, they will still use all their information about passing Wi-Fi access points and cell-towers to locate and track you. Obviously to show you location based ads, but imagine the implications, when saved away inside web-history and available for subpoena from the outside.

Kinda similar to when it was documented that Apple kept location data for up to 12 months from the iPhones, or the similar case showing that GMs databases kept tracking and saving away OnStar GPS locations, EVEN AFTER the customers had long since closed their OnStar accounts.


 10:20 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

A few weeks ago I ditched the last site from my froogle/base account. Just been in to clean up and get rid of the google account associated with it and I couldn't get in.

Login seemed to work, I clicked on the equivalent of "I already know about t&c" (forget what it was called - something dumb), enabled JS because I had to, and then went around an endless NoScript redirection loop trying to get further in. Gave up in the end and just deleted the email address from my mail servers.

Also removed the half-dozen cookies they imposed on my Firefox, including a googleplus one. I do not allow G cookies on my machines.

I know they will retain the details but not a lot to worry about in this case.

All I have now is a WMT account for a handful of sites (mine and my clients') that I haven't accessed for a couple of years and probably never will again. Haven't used their SERPS for about the same time.

My wife occasionally uses G SERPS to check on clients' ratings but that's it.

I am actually angry at G. I was one of the webmasters who, at the very beginning of google, said to customers "Hey, guys, this is worth looking at!". I feel badly let down and the backlash about G's behaviour from me to those same customers AND, indirectly, their customers is becoming tediously aggressive.

Nice to see some adverse publicity here in the UK at last. Not strong, but it's a beginning.

[edit] Incidentally, I only received the warning about G's policy update on ONE of my two email addresses registered with them for DIFFERENT accounts. Wonder how many others haven't received a warning?


 10:29 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Incidentally, I only received the warning about G's policy update on ONE of my two email addresses registered with them for DIFFERENT accounts.

They sent something by e-mail?! When?


 10:32 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Having lived in two different European countries for 26 years of my life, I cannot fully comprehend why EU countries have not yet gone after Google's practices a LONG time ago. It has been a while, but the privacy concerns and legislations I remember does not seem to fit into what Big-G is doing.

Has the bureaucracy and network of EU memberships/rules and the like really diluted the local governments clout that much? Or is it something else?


 10:40 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)


On January 25, I got one email informing me that by March 1 :

We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

That new policy of course includes that they want to start using the data from one "product" in all the other products as well. Making it easier to track you (or as another document puts it something like "make sure you are presented consistently across products").

But you have to read all their documents and some help pages to get the combined gist of what they are really wanting to do. The new privacy policy is merely the initial preparation for what comes next. :)


 10:41 pm on Mar 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

They sent something by e-mail?! When?

Oh yes, they sent a "we're changing our policies" email to a very large number of users a few weeks ago.


 4:56 am on Mar 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think I must have received all the emails that everyone else is missing. I must have gotten 100 of 'em.

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